God in this time period and now is a very powerful being. He has the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. Pharaoh in the book of Exodus tests God’s patience and power by continuing to deceive him as well as Moses, and Aaron. In this paper I plan to compare and contrast the ten plagues in the bible, Exodus 7:14-12:36 with Psalms 78:44-51 and 105:28-36 as well as explain how the authors of each psalm view the story of the plagues. In Exodus, it speaks about how the Pharaoh is unyielding to letting the Egyptian slaves go free so that they can worship to God.
God initially had send Moses, who was made like God to the Pharaoh, and Aaron, Moses’ prophet, to warn Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Each and every time this request was asked of Pharaoh, he would lie about freeing his slaves, then, harden his heart and change his mind. This made God very angry and this is how the plagues began. The first plague started with the River Nile being turned into blood. This was God’s initial idea of getting Pharaoh to do what he wants and by removing the source of water would surely get his attention.
However, that was not the case and the Pharaoh’s heart hardened. This pattern between God, Moses, Aaron, and the Pharaoh continued throughout nine more plagues after the first. The plagues that occurred after the Nile River turning into blood were frogs, gnats, flies, livestock/pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally the death of the first born of every living being and animal in Egypt. The final plague is what we now know as Passover. I noticed in the first Psalm account of the ten plagues (Ps. 78:44-51), only seven of the ten plagues were mentioned.
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It started with turning the river into blood, followed by a swarm of flies, frogs, then locusts, hail, the killing of livestock, and finally the killing of the firstborn of every human and animal of Egypt. This psalm only has eight stanzas and if you notice the plagues are not in the same order as the ones in the book of Exodus. Instead of using the words gnats (used in Exodus) that word is replaced with caterpillars. The plagues of boils and darkness were not used in this Psalm also. Psalms 78:44-51 is of a Yahwistic narrative. God seems like a parental figure so to speak.
It seems like it is just punishment because of the Pharaoh’s ignorance and his follower’s obliviousness. Like parents with children if one child messes up, the other siblings tend to feel part of the punishment as well and this is what I feel happened to the people of Egypt. The Yahwist tradition basically explains the relationship between God and man and to present sin and how man should be like God. Also, there is a level of communication that shows the relationship between human beings and God; a level of closeness and relationship growth.
In the second account of the plagues in Psalm 105:28-36, this too is not in the same order as the ones in Exodus. It starts off with God sending darkness over the land then turning the river into blood, followed by a swarm of frogs, flies, gnats, hail, livestock, locusts, and again ending with the killing of the first born of every human and animal in Egypt. This Psalm has nine stanzas and this time boils was the only plague not used. To compare to the plagues in Exodus there is one way communication to show that God is all powerful and we are to never think that we are greater than him.
For example, In Ex. 7:6, God directs Moses and Aaron to take a message to the Pharaoh and they did just as the Lord asked. Psalms 105:28-36 is written in a priestly fashion. The priestly narrative speaks on how angry God was and says that he did not spare anyone’s lives and left them all in the hands of the plague and the company of the destroying angels. It makes it seem like God in this psalm is mean with no remorse for anyone – monster like. To conclude, I feel that historical accuracy is equally important to ancient writers as well as the readers who choose to read their script.
In the case of the plagues and the two psalm accounts relating to them, I think the reason why Ex. 7:14-12:36 and the two Ps. 78:44-51 and 105:28-36, are not in agreement in terms of order and number is because they were written by two authors with different views. I think that creating different versions of the same story is not a major problem for the biblical editors because it is nice to read a story and have the opportunity to see it in two different perspectives so that you can draw your own conclusion.
Remember. This is just a sample.
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